Tag Archives: critique group

Did a lot, but…

Today was my flex day and I had a pretty good list of projects. This was the list:

  • Editing on Serang
  • Work up three small critique sections
  • Send out the shtick for a new Lisa Burton Radio show
  • Read more of a fantastic novel

I got a lot done, but never got all the way to reading.

I started with the interview shtick and got it out the door. This author is looking for a mid July date so I have plenty of time to schedule and get it assembled once it’s in my hands.

The critiques are important to me. When you’re in a crit group, those people are there for you and you have to be there for them. I scratched this off the list.

When it came to Serang, I changed a few minor wordings, and one sentence that made no reasonable sense at all. Funny how those things still manage to slip through at this late hour. I never got all the way through the MS, so this one remains on my weekend list.

When it comes to the weekend, my slate is pretty clear. I can get all the way through Serang, then dedicate my time to reading. I don’t have to start on The Viral Blues edits yet, so if I get that far it’s a bonus.

I also have my next Expansion Pack roughed out for Story Empire. I’m not up again for a while, so I have time to spiff it up. I like to schedule them one ahead, so I might even deal with that in the evenings. Blogging doesn’t quite seem to demand the concentration the other projects do.

The expansion packs are doing okay, but I’d like to see them do better. These are the helpful ideas I have right now, so I’m not moving on until that well dries up.

All told, it was a productive day. I’d like to have done more, but really can’t complain. Back to the office tomorrow.

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My short weekend

I only get a two day weekend on the rotation. My wife is off too, so it doesn’t make for much of a writing weekend. Normally, it isn’t even worth trying.

Tomorrow is when I call my parents, so I lose an hour in the morning there.

I really wanted to reach a part in Serang, so I dabbled this morning among all the noise. This isn’t the same as quality writing time, but it did add words.

It only came to about 800 words, but I got to and through that folk legend I’ve been planning. I like the way it turned out, and Serang is working on completing her quest.

I’m happiest with a callback to her childhood that brought a bit of emotion to the scene. Early reports are that it worked.

This is the start of Serang’s quest. It involves a bit of mining while dealing with the local wildlife. It’s going to take a few words (and locations) to bring it full circle.

It wasn’t productive, but it was successful. Forward progress counts even a few hundred words at a time.

Because I already had some words, this allowed me to send about 6000 words to my critique group. I already have the majority of them back. I seem to keep making the same errors over, and over again. Maybe we all do that, but I’d like to think I’m improving in some small way.

I’ll probably try to address the critiques after talking to my parents tomorrow. They’re coming for a visit next weekend, and I’m looking forward to it. I haven’t seen them in a while. It will be fun, but takes the place of any writing progress.

The rest of the weekend will involve a whole lot of Game of Thrones.

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If it’s progress it counts

I spent my day working on stuff that didn’t involve new words of fiction. While that is my favorite thing to do, these other tasks have to get done too.

I started with two critiques I received on Serang. This was a super long section, and about the time I finished them, the final one showed up in my email. It was perfect. This took me until about noon.

Serang is now ready to move forward with new words.

I spent a big part of this afternoon researching my next post over at Story Empire, then writing, assembling, and posting it. This is from my living documents, and involves story structure. I’m tackling the writing monomyth, also known as the hero’s journey. It’s going to have to be a series, and that’s fine by me. If it performs well, I may do others of this ilk, like the villain’s journey, fairy tale story structure, etc. Show up over there on Wednesday to let me know how I did.

It made for a full day, but I accomplished a lot. My slate is now clear for new fiction. My parents just announced they’re unavailable tomorrow, so I gained Sunday to go along with Monday.

With any luck I’ll be making the pixels fly tomorrow.

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Small progress day

I woke up early and added a few more words to my WIP, Serang. It didn’t amount to much. When 8:00 rolled around, I talked to my parents for an hour.

Beyond that it was time for a Jimmy Dean breakfast sandwich, with a fresh cup of coffee. I added a few more words after that. All in all, it felt like a thousand new words.

Then I quit the new words idea. I needed to reread and make small corrections before sending it to my critique group. I like what’s there, but I’m always nervous about middle sections. Guess I’ll find out what they think later this week.

I should have broken it into two submissions. I didn’t really plan to get that much new stuff accomplished. My wife visiting out of state was spontaneous, so I made the best of it.

Last night I watched a dumpster fire of a ballgame instead of typing away. There’s one on now too, but it looks a bit better.

My wife made it back about an hour ago, and it looks like a wrap on my writing weekend. All in all, it was outstanding. It may be a year before I get this kind of opportunity again, so I made the best of it.

Right now, Serang and her master are camped at the mouth of a canyon and ready to enter the Temple of Wind. It’s probably good to stop here and dwell on it for a week. I need to kind of foreshadow something that is going to happen near the end of the story, and a bit of time might help me do a better job of it.

I also need to consider wind, sounds, echoes, temperatures, shadows, and more for the Temple of Wind. Time is my friend now.

Back to the real world tomorrow.

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2017 can kiss my ass

Every year, I try to do an assessment of the year that was. I follow this up with something I call a business plan for the new year. This is my assessment of 2017.

I always have a few goals, and 17 was no exception. I wanted to release The Enhanced League, and The Yak Guy Project. I’m going to declare victory, but it rings kind of hollow.

I released The Enhanced League around the time of Major League Baseball’s Allstar Break. It was a little bit off from the Opening Day release I had planned. Honestly, it sold like crazy… for about two weeks. Then it completely died. I haven’t moved a single copy since the end of July.

Reviews of Enhanced League were all positive. I don’t like throwing a lot of money behind my 99¢ specials, because my royalty is about 34¢ per copy. I view my short form stuff as a way to drive readers to take a chance on my novels.

I knew a fictional baseball league would have a limited audience, so I was aware this could happen. I also know that baseball returns like Spring flowers, and it could have some longevity over the years. (I count down opening day like others countdown Christmas.)

The Yak Guy is a finished book and has been for several months. (Yeah, you can’t read it yet, but I’m looking for something positive about 2017.) I drug my feet here, for a lot of reasons. I waited for a couple of my favorite beta readers to have an opening, and took their advice to heart. I also wanted to submit it to a publisher. This caused me to hem & haw and drag my feet. Yeah, I’m a procrastinator.

I waited for openings with these readers, because I lost my critique group. We held on for years, then everyone kind of drifted away. I found the process very helpful, but there is nothing I can do about it now.

Yak Guy is the story of a spoiled and lazy young man who winds up in an alternate world. He has to learn a thing or two to even survive, let alone thrive. This is the one I based upon the Fool’s Journey from the Tarot. Yak Guy meets many mentors along his journey, and astute observers might recognize them from the Tarot.

I fiddled around for a month or so, then submitted it to a publisher. All I have to do is wait around and see what happens. It’s one of those where they don’t reject you, they simply don’t respond at all. I sent a nice cover letter and a synopsis. About two days after I sent it away, I realized they wanted the synopsis in the body of the email. Mine is an attachment, so it’s probably an automatic rejection. How do you do a cover letter if that isn’t the body of the email?

Aside from that Quantum Wanderlust is the the only other thing I had cooking. This involves one short story, Swift Wings, that is part of a larger anthology. I even did a small bit of promotion and commissioned some Lisa Burton artwork to help things along. It seems to be holding its own, but reviews have been hard to come by. There are some fabulous authors in this collection, so you might want to check it out.

That’s my entire 2017 publishing file. One actual book, and one short story.

My blog stats are stagnant. I have almost exactly the same number of views as I did in 2016. In past years, my stats grew exponentially every year. This concerns me, because this blog is the heart of my presence online. There were referrals from all of the popular social media sites, so that’s good. The biggest referrer was Flipboard. Flipboard is kind of strange, because one post can go crazy there, the others can be completely ignored. Facebook and Twitter are more stable.

The majority of clicks on my site were on media. I checked it out and they are all Lisa Burton art. I wish they were my books, but I can handle this. It has to do with that tiny bit of subconscious recognition. Ya’ll come back, there will be more art and you might decide to read something too.

Lisa Burton Radio grew by leaps and bounds. I was nearly able to post every week. The only gaps were ones I caused, and I can live with that. Children’s books appeared for the first time, and overall they were really popular posts.

There are some things I do here on a sporadic basis. The Idea Mill posts and my October event called Macabre Macaroni. These continue to be popular, but not overwhelmingly so. A lot of authors visit here, but not all of them are speculative fiction authors. To them, the Idea Mill might be amusing, but it doesn’t exactly relate to what they write. I’m going to keep doing these, because I enjoy them. I think I’m allowed a bit of fun on occasion.

The Macabre Macaroni that got the best response was the one about the comatose lady who imagined life with the daughter she lost. I never know which one is going to be the favorite from short story to short story.

I’ve been around long enough that my old posts are getting regular action now. This is a good thing. They aren’t all gems, but it’s nice when a few of them have longevity. I like to think I have a chance of gaining followers when they search for something and find me.

Story Empire is a group blog I helped create. This site is growing like crazy, and I’m honored to be part of it. It started smaller, so it’s easier to gain growth. (It’s easy to get 100% growth when you have one follower; that theory.) It’s doing very well. We did a group promotion we called the Bookmobile, and it was a rousing success for me. All we did was post on each others’ sites, but I moved more copies during this event than any other time of the year. Unfortunately, it was the only group promo we did. I hope we can cobble something together again in 2018. (Hint, if the rest of you stop by.)

On the writing front, it wasn’t great. Flat blog stats, only one book release and it was short lived, and one anthology story. The anthology is still selling, so there’s that.

On the personal front, 2017 pretty much sucked. Part of this was the 2016 political landscape. It felt more like the line from Ghostbusters than anything else. “Choose the form of the destroyer.” Nice to have a choice, but a destroyer none-the-less.

We thought we were doing a good thing by adopting two bulldog puppies instead of one. We wanted to save a tiny baby from a cargo flight to Florida. With their short faces and breathing issues, it was a coin toss as to whether she would be alive at the other end. We brought home Frankie and Nyx. Nyx died in my arms on the Fourth of July. She got heat stroke in a shady back yard with access to plenty of water. My son swears she was only outside for about fifteen minutes. I guess she would have been better off trying to go to Florida. There isn’t a day that passes without my thinking of her.

Shortly after that, their older brother Otto hurt his back. He literally crawled around using his front legs and dragging his hind legs for over a month. He woke up in the middle of the night screaming on more than one occasion. Fortunately, many dollars and drugs later he is back to his active old self.

I feel for him more than you know. I did something to my own back in early December, and missed a week of work. There were times when I needed help to get out of bed or to lift the toilet seat. I had my own drugs to help things along, and am still not perfect. I missed an occasional work day even after the first week.

Somewhere along the way, we lost half of our annual income. My goal was to pay off as much as we could before this happened, but it landed about four months early. We’ll be okay, but it is a life changing set of circumstances. On the bright side, we had that income when Otto was in pain. I shudder to think of the choice I might have been forced to make had the resource dried up back then.

I wound up getting some kind of flu on a working trip during the summer. On a positive note, it led to Marissa Bergen to write a song called Vending Machine Imodium. Marissa completely made it worthwhile.

So overall, 2017 didn’t have much to recommend it. I’m going to take it for a walk in the desert. Just look at the flowers, 2017. What? This revolver is for protection from coyotes.

My 2018 business plan will post shortly after the new year arrives, and it’s going to be a lot more positive. I try to assess the year honestly, but my outlook is unfazed.

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Obituary


This is a checking in post, so I’ll try to keep things brief. I have a lot going on over the next few weeks. You may have seen the promos for Quantum Wanderlust, and that’s just part of it. I also have some things to post for friends who are releasing their own books. There are still a couple of things I need to write, but I may not get to all this writing and scheduling until the weekend.

Tonight was my grandson’s birthday, so we all went to supper immediately after work. This leaves us about enough time to clean up and go to bed so we can work tomorrow. He was excited and got some cool nerf gun stuff. His mom got a cute video of him face diving into a plate of whipped cream and looking for a cherry. This is something the restaurant did for us, and it was pretty funny.

Earlier this week another member bailed out of our critique group. Two of us have been there since the beginning, but the other long term members left about a year ago. It wasn’t all at once, and they trickled out over a few months.

New members joined and failed to last three months. We’ve been haunting the local membership base, Facebook, and other likely haunts. Most of the inquiries are looking for wine and cheese, but very little actual writing. Some want to play at being writers, and we come across a bit hardcore for them.

I’ve had my butt kicked at critique group, and I’ve been the one kicking butt a few times too. Honestly, I learned so much from this process I’m going to really miss it. Critique involves hearing the tough things, then adjusting to improve the result. Too many people were looking for the Mutual Admiration Society. Many have been to groups with a lot of members, but only a couple made submissions every month. That just doesn’t work for the other fellow and I.

I recently wrote 25,500 words over a period of about a month and a half. We submit 3000 words per month. The rule was you have to critique all the other submissions, usually about four, but you get four critiques of your own 3000 words. With the novella I just finished, I have eight months of material. If I only got to submit say, twice per year in a big group, that isn’t very helpful.

We had our date set for three members when the newest guy bailed out on the group. The remaining fellow asked me if we ought to fold the whole thing, and I agreed. We had a good run, but it looks like I’ll have to find something else.

I know there are some online options, but those deserve a bit of scrutiny before diving in. The other trick is to find at least a couple of people who are better writers than I am. This isn’t to say that I’m awesome, it’s just a growth and improvement thing. A mix of people with some veterans along with some newer folks seems to work well.

The benefit of the newer folks involves doing the critique work. I’ve learned as much from trying to help others along as from being helped. Sometimes it’s like looking in the mirror, and you cement the lessons you learned, and understand why you got your butt kicked six months before.

I’ll keep my eyes open. Something else may come along. I’m not going to get in a hurry either. I still have access to some darned good beta readers, but that’s a different process.

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Chipping Away

Mom and Dad had date night, and we got pumpkin hats.

I chipped away at my task list. I have a couple of Lisa interviews ready to go, but I’m holding off on which one to post. I’m waiting for purchase data for a book. I don’t have to decide until tomorrow, so I’ve gone as far as I can.

I successfully ignored The Hat. Stepping away is always better for the editing process.

All of my critique work is finished. I printed everything today and put them in my truck for our meeting Tuesday. I got down to the last few pieces of paper yesterday, printed the submissions out, and then learned my print heads needed cleaning. I had to throw them away and shop for paper. We swung by Fred Meyer after date night and all is well.

We ran a few errands, and even picked up some dog toys. We’re still picking up things like those undermats that keep the rugs from sliding around. After we finished my son and I logged a few hours of Borderlands. My character got a cool new sniper rifle that lights its victims on fire, and she got a new head too. Seriously, I don’t write this stuff. You get heads and bodies from a vending machine as a kind of upgrade.

In a way, it’s too bad the real world doesn’t work this way. I could insert my credit card and grow a foot taller. Then I wouldn’t be overweight.

When we re-upped with Direct TV, we were given a year of the NFL League Pass for free. We watched the game last week, but this week it’s not on. We probably need to call them, but were denied the ability to watch. My internet indicates the Steelers won, so there’s that. I might get to check out some baseball later today.

I say might, because Old What’s Her Face is binge watching The Outlander. While Outlander is on, I retreated to another room and started reading A Desolate Hour. It seems to take me forever to read a book these days, but I’m committed. Great story so far.

I also wrote a couple of future blog posts. When the Muse visits, it’s best to give in to her. Not kidding here, she gets violent.

I still haven’t gotten back to the edits on Yak Guy. Tomorrow is my best chance, but it’s dependent upon whether my daughter decides to talk my ear off.

So I chipped away at the task list. Some projects are complete, some on hold, and others yet to come. Maybe tomorrow will let me scratch them all off.

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